By Daniel Hunter

Nearly half of UK small firms admit that they regularly buy substantial purchases of new technology without being certain they fully need them, according to research by Fasthosts Internet Ltd.

It is perhaps unsurprising then that data from 788 UK small firms also finds a huge divide in terms of success with using technology in the workplace. For 1 in 3 firms, implementing new business technology such as smartphones, notepads and computer software, has failed to improve efficiencies.

Furthermore, only 1 in 10 firms disappointed with a piece of technology has gone back to their technology supplier or IT advisor to ask for help.

Fasthosts’ Business Technology Audit finds that too many firms today struggle with the way they buy and use technology for their work. Whilst the vast majority are upbeat about the relevance of technology, many find success with new technology items to be rather hit-or-miss.

A total of 35 per cent admit that their latest technology purchases have either led them to work longer hours or failed to impact their work efficiencies. Some 48 per cent have indeed achieved more efficient or ‘smarter working’ through their use of technology.

Disappointingly, some three quarters of small companies (74 per cent) believe that implementing technology has not freed-up sufficient staff time for their company’s innovation or scope to be raised. Furthermore, only 41 per cent of respondents believe that staff find using technology to be enjoyable, and 1 in 5 firms employ staff who are frightened of receiving new technology.

The data suggests the way in which technology is researched and bought by many small firms is contributing to such failures. It is surely significant that 48 per cent admit they are investing in substantial purchases of new technology without being certain the business really needs them. The vast majority of all firms (85 per cent) admit that they do not always know how best to use new technology solutions when they are introduced.

“Busy business owners can struggle to find the time and advice needed to ensure all technology investments are well placed," Stephen Holford, Marketing Director, Fasthosts Internet Ltd, commented.

"Whilst it is pleasing that many firms are getting this right, too many still do not benefit from technology as they should because of shortfalls in knowledge. A lacks approach to researching technology in relation to their needs can lead firms to waste money on solutions that simply do not perform."

Alarmingly, it appears that many bad investments in technology are going unaddressed. Only 11 per cent of UK small firms review whether a technology has worked well after every new piece is introduced. Only 1 in 10 disappointed with the impact a technology has made, has addressed this with either the supplier or IT advisor who provided it. Surprisingly, only 1 in 4 firms seek the advice of an IT professional before they make substantial investments in technology.

“Sadly, an inadequate approach to buying and reviewing solutions can lead firms to miss out on the maximum value of technology," Holford added.

"All firms must take steps to actively drive the efficiencies they gain. It is vital to plan technology investments properly, working with suppliers to ensure the correct systems are purchased to address the required needs.

"Subsequently, businesses need to measure the success rate of the solutions being deployed and take necessary steps to address errors or shortfalls in performance. Knowledge is often the key, so contact suppliers to ask for advice, guidelines, case studies or examples of best-practice usage before an investment and on an on-going basis."

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